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With God On Their Side 

Inside Track

“It is plain to any serious Bible student that Vermont has now become the world focus of demonic activity. The Green Mountain has now labored and brought forth [the] AntiChrist, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a supreme court pig sty. It is a veritable Luciferian Nativity Scene and Vermont is Hell’s Bethlehem.”

No, this isn’t about UVM’s Hockey Hazing Scandal — we’ll get to that later. This is about the current debate under the golden dome on gay marriage. The view expressed above is that of the Kookie Kansas Kristians from Topeka. It’s posted on their family-oriented website: Praise the Lord, and pass the ignorance!

“Gov. Howard Dean is a modern Herrod (sic) breathing out Satan’s gospel… Vermont’s shameless population of Bible-illiterate morons will figure out a way to capitalize on the boom to tourism such a massive influx of human excrement will bring. Then all Vermont will be one huge faggot toilet and whorehouse.”

Yours truly’s reminded of Mark Twain’s remark — “If Christ were here now, there is one thing he would not be — a Christian.”

In the end, the Kookie Kansas Kristians never showed their unsmiling faces at the Statehouse on opening day. But there’s been no shortage of scripture-quoting fanatics filling the airwaves on local talk radio. Their virulent rhetoric of righteous Bible-spawned hatred for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters crystallizes the issue as several of our distinguished political leaders run for cover.

The Black Robes of Vermont’s high court surely must be having a good laugh as politicians squirm like worms in a tin can. After all, the Amestoy court made it clear in a unanimous decision: Gay marriage in Vermont does pass the constitutional test. A “domestic partnership” protocol — the fallback position for conservatives and weak-kneed moderates and liberals — remains to be tested.

So, what will the legislature do?

On first blush, King Herod, er, Gov. Dean proclaimed a “consensus” to go the domestic partner route. Obviously the Kooks from Kansas are not up to speed on our Guy, as Ho-Ho prays there’s some way to get the camel of domestic partnership through the eye of the supreme court’s needle. From the get-go, the issue of gay marriage is one Dr. Dean has treated like smallpox.

It makes him “uncomfortable just like anybody else.” It’s not hard to imagine Ho-Ho on his knees every night praying gay marriage does not become a Vermont reality on his watch. Even today, he insists gay marriage is an issue of importance only to gays and lesbians, and he refuses to say if he’d a sign a gay marriage bill. Sorry, folks, No profile in courage here.

But courageous people have stepped up to the plate. Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy and crew top the list. And individual lawmakers like Democratic State Sen. Jeb Spaulding and Republican State Rep. Bill Suchmann have followed.

In the end, same-sex marriage is not about protecting Howard Dean’s shot at national office or placating a mob of loudmouth scripture-quoting fanatics.

In the end, all it is about, as that life-long Boston Red Sox fan Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy put it, is “recognition of our common humanity.”

Those are not the words of some left-wing, far-out, anti-family, atheistic radical. Amestoy served as Vermont’s chief law enforcement officer for 12 years. And, oh, yeah, Jeff’s a Republican.

Hockey Hazing Update — Last week’s big press conference at Groovy UV did little to erase the appearance of a cover-up of the Hockey Hazing Scandal. The only reason UVM released the documents was that Judge Scaldin’ Alden Bryan ordered it. Thank you, Burlington Free Press, for taking the matter to court.

But there’s nothing in the 27 new hazing documents that in any way, shape or form refutes the allegations made by former freshman goalie hopeful Corey LaTulippe in the federal lawsuit he filed on December 10. If anything, the opposite is true.

Included in the package was an October 28 letter from one of LaTulippe’s lawyers, Gail Westgate, to UVM President Judith Ramaley, which adds another unseemly hazing practice to the long list of alleged gross misconduct by the veteran hockey pucks. We’ve all heard about the “elephant walk” and the push-ups the freshman skaters allegedly had to perform while dipping their wee-wees in beer. We’ve heard how the frosh were forced to get drunk and puke. And the threats of being required to have biblical knowledge of one of God’s wool-producing four-legged creatures. But there’s more, and President Ramaley heard about it more than a month before the lawsuit was filed.

The hazing threats, wrote Westgate, “were a daily occurrence. The last week of September all freshman players were told to sleep in their clothes and were awakened many evenings in the middle of the night and forced to run naked outside and drink shots as they retrieved items of personal clothing.”

The birthday-suit, middle-of-the-night work-outs allegedly took place at Dorset Park in South Burlington. What a positive team-building activity! Perhaps “nude men’s ice hockey” will finally make it into the X Games?

When the hazing story exploded in the news last month, UVM’s hit man —attorney Ritchie Berger — publicly trashed LaTulippe, the whistle blower. Berger claimed there wouldn’t have been a lawsuit had LaTulippe not been cut from the squad. The young man should have stripped down and taken it like a man!

But the fact is, Corey LaTulippe was the one and only hockey puck who followed the university and the athletic department policy on hazing to the letter. Way back in September, he followed the rules and courageously reported the hazing. LaTulippe did the right thing and, under questioning, Athletic Director Rick Farnham and his assistant, Jeff Schulman, reluctantly acknowledged that fact at the press conference.

But the big question remains unanswered. If Corey LaTulippe did the right thing, then a couple dozen UVM hockey pucks did not do the right thing. Who covered it all up? Who denied the hazing occurred? Who stuck together like loyal coconspirators and stonewalled investigators?

That apparent dishonesty is what’s disturbing. And worse is the fact some UVM officials continue to stand by these players, portraying them as children who aren’t mature enough to handle the responsibility of following the rules.

Coach Mike Gilligan portrayed the team’s misconduct as “young men acting childish and not adhering to my warnings.”

And Farnham, his boss, bristled at the press conference like a red rooster who resented having his cockle-doodle-doo publicly second-guessed.

“I’m going to continue to walk around this community with my head held high,” blustered Farnham. “We’ve got some tremendous student athletes at this university. They succeed in the classroom. They succeed on the field, and they’re great young people and I will continue to be proud of their accomplishments no matter what or where this goes.”

No matter what, huh?

Jeezum crow, Mr. Farnham, it sounds like your UVM school spirit has left you blind in both eyes. And UVM’s big problem now appears to be a chronic case of the blind leading the blind.

Morris the Cat — Quite the splashy coming out this month for Statehouse hired-gun business lobbyist Jerry Morris of Charlotte. The wise and wiry Mr. Morris is a well-known quantity under the golden dome, but until hitting the cover of the January issue of Business People, Morris the Cat has deliberately kept a low public profile.

“The Jerr,” as his lobbying sidekick Allison Crowley Demag calls him, has been kicking around the Statehouse for over a decade. Previously, he’d handled damage control for Boston Mayor Kevin White and on Beacon Hill for Gov. Ed King. While fellow “black hats” like Steve Kimbell and David Wilson have attracted the media spotlight, Morris the Cat has operated quietly in the shadows, focused on the end result — and the guy’s got quite the client list.

This South Boston Irish tabby has represented the interests of an impressive menagerie of corporate clients who required the skill of a professional “cleaner” — from Champion Paper on herbicide spraying to Monsanto on BST to Vermont Yankee to Budweiser, the King of Beers (and The Jerr’s favorite thirst-quencher).

A few years ago, when he represented Killington, Morris the Cat succeeded in having the legislature, in effect, declare the ski industry an official state religion. The Cat got it written into the state statute on water withdrawal for snowmaking that one of the purposes of the law was to “help to provide for and enhance the viability of Vermont’s ski industry.”

In the Business People profile by Pip Vaughan-Hughes, Morris the Cat brags how he attended 13 different colleges before getting his degree, and how in his youth he had aspirations for the priesthood.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Wedding Bells — The dude that the Boston Globe dubbed “the Rascal of the North” has finally met his match! State Sen. Vince Illuzzi will be bidding bachelorhood goodbye in a few months. The lucky girl?

That would be Eileen Clare Maher of Derby. Originally from New Rochelle, New York, Eileen, 40, is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and is currently working on a masters at St. Mike’s. She’s a coordinator for Northeast Kingdom Learning Services and manager of the Adult Basic Education Program. No doubt, she’s been able to teach Vince the Prince a few new tricks. After all, he hasn’t been trashed on WCAX-TV in months. A June wedding is planned.


Public Television Update — It’s been four years since majority Republican state senators led by Susan Sweetser, Dennis Delaney and Tom Macaulay put the kibosh to Vermont Public Television’s state funding. Susie Creamcheese, Dennis the Menace and Tommy Terrific cut VPT’s state appropriation from $800,000 to $1. Half the cut was restored in conference committee, but the GOP chop hurt, forcing VPT to reduce staff and go into debt.

Four years later, things are finally starting to look up. In his recommended Fiscal 2001 budget, Gov. Dean has put in almost $600,000 for Vermont’s public television station plus a one-time $310,000 expenditure to get VPT out of debt. It’s been a tough road back for the station, but there’s finally a light at the end of their tunnel.

Also, VPT has a new chairman of the board — Republican State Sen. Helen Riehle. And starting next week, the station will start airing the governor’s weekly press conference in its entirety.

And, by the way, the three distinguished R’s who took the hatchet to VPT in 1996 have something else in common — each one of them was defeated in their last bid for elective office.

What a coincidence!

Attention Vermont Gamblers! — Vermont gamblers who surf the net have been frustrated for almost two months by the fact the Vermont Lottery Commission’s Web site — — has been down. Lottery Director Alan Yandow tells Seven Days the site was having so many problems he decided to switch providers. However, says Big Al, the switch “is taking a bit longer than anticipated.”

Yandow tells Seven Days the new site should be up and running by the end of the week. And, he promises, it’ll be a significant improvement. Visitors will be able to see how much prize money remains in the scratch-off games. Place your bets.

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.


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